Assemblymember Steck Passes Legislation to Create Universal Health Care Plan for New Yorkers

Assemblymember Phil Steck (D-Colonie) announced that the New York Health Act, which he co-sponsored and would create a universal single-payer insurance plan to provide health coverage to every New York resident, passed the Assembly (A.4738).

“Far too many people have to forgo lifesaving treatment because they don’t have insurance, their insurance won’t cover it or the costs are too high, and now we have a federal administration that seems hell-bent on making the situation worse,” Steck said. “But here in New York, we know that’s not right – we fight hard for equality and health should not be the exception to the rule. Everyone, no matter their age, gender, race or net worth, should have access to health care.”

Steck has been a longtime advocate for a single-payer health system. Considerable research has shown that a universal health care system would reduce costs and pass savings along to patients, consumers and taxpayers.1 He has co-sponsored and passed legislation to create a single-payer system several times, but recent events have made it all the more urgent. With children born with pre-existing conditions at risk of losing coverage and mothers facing astronomical costs associated with giving birth, the situation has become dire, noted Steck. The repeal of the Affordable Care Act could leave as many as 2.7 million New Yorkers without health insurance coverage.2

“Without good health, everything else is moot,” Steck said. “It’s our responsibility to step up and lead the way because our health and the health of our children, friends, family and neighbors are in imminent danger.” Steck pointed out that single-payer is a plan under which everyone gets health insurance coverage. It is not a means-tested plain like Medicaid in which people pay taxes for benefits they do not receive.

The New York Health Act would establish a universal health care system within the state, known as New York Health, and expand coverage eligibility to include all residents, regardless of wealth, income, age or pre-existing condition. In addition, every enrollee would have access to the full range of doctors and service providers offered. The plan would provide comprehensive inpatient and outpatient care, primary and preventive care, maternity care, prescription drug costs, laboratory testing, rehabilitative care and dental, vision and hearing care.

Additionally, state funding would be combined with federal funds that are currently received for Medicare, Medicaid and Child Health Plus to create the New York Health Trust Fund. The state would also seek federal waivers that will allow New York to completely fold those programs into New York Health. The local share of Medicaid funding would be ended, offering major property tax relief for New Yorkers.

Steck will hold a town hall with Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, chair of the Assembly Health Committee, to discuss health care with constituents on Tuesday, June 6, from 6 - 8 p.m. at the Colonie Town Library at 629 Albany Shaker Road in Albany.